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updated: 7/8/2013 11:37 PM

Palatine moves ahead with plans to renovate village hall

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The hallways and lockers that still line parts of Palatine's village hall, remnants of the old high school that left 36 years ago, could be a thing of the past as plans move forward to overhaul the building.

The village council Monday unanimously approved a first-phase, $130,000 contract for Palatine-based Wold Architects and Engineers to create a schematic design to renovate the Wood Street facility.

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The entire rehabilitation project, which would include the relocation of the nearby Colfax Street fire station to village hall, is expected to cost about $10.6 million.

"(The council's vote) just gets the ball moving forward so we can fine-tune all these aspects," Village Manager Reid Ottesen said.

Talk about the need to either make over or close the aging building began several years ago. An analysis showed the plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems had reached or surpassed their useful life expectancy. But officials at the time agreed the priority should be to construct a new police headquarters because the department had outgrown village hall's basement.

The staff also explored three other options: renovating the old Harris building south of the Metra line, building a new facility somewhere downtown, or demolishing the existing building and rebuilding in the same spot. But those options carry heftier price tags, ranging from $14.4 million to $20.4 million. The two downtown options would require $5 million parking garages.

Ottesen said another advantage of renovating village hall is that the building, which opened in 1952 and was expanded in 1966, has "solid bones" made of structurally reinforced concrete that will save 20 percent to 30 percent in construction costs.

The park district, housed in the eastern wing of the same building as village hall, also will consider whether to update its facility. Executive Director Mike Clark expressed interest in partnering with the village at least on the exterior.

"Mike Clark shares with me (the opinion that) there are a lot of synergies that come from sharing the facility," Ottensen said. "I think it's most economical for the community, as well."

The 2006 report on village hall revealed similar conditions at the Colfax fire station. Officials said it doesn't make financial sense to rehab the station when it can be relocated about a quarter-mile to village hall. There's more than enough space now that the basement is vacant.

Wold Architects representatives will present the schematic design in late August or September. The village will decide then whether to approve the remainder of the $1.1 million contract for design-related services.

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